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Regiment of Light Dragoons
Active 1808 — 1815
Disbanded 17 May 1815
Country United States
Branch U.S. Army
Type Dragoons
Size Regiment
Weapons Sabers
Campaigns War of 1812
Commanders Wade Hampton (1808-1809)
Leonard Covington (1809-1813)
Jacint Laval (1813-1814)
James Burn (1814-1815)

The Regiment of Light Dragoons was a unit of the U.S. Army in the early nineteenth century. It was first activated in 1808. During the War of 1812, it was temporarily designated as the 1st Regiment of Light Dragoons when the War Department created an additional similar regiment. On 12 May 1814, the additional regiment was consolidated with the 1st Regiment, which reverted to its unnumbered designation. The regiment was consolidated with the Corps of Artillery on 17 May 1815.


On 12 April 1808, following the ChesapeakeLeopard Affair, the U.S. Congress passed legislation authorizing an increase in the size of the U.S. Army, to include a regiment of dragoons.[1][2]


The Regiment of Light Dragoons was organized on 12 April 1808 under the act of congress of the same date. It consisted of a regimental headquarters and eight troops. An act on 11 January 1812 creating a second regiment resulted in the regiment being re-designated as the 1st Regiment of Light Dragoons. A further act of 30 March 1814 resulted in the two regiments being consolidated, on 12 May 1814, into one Regiment of Light Dragoons with eight troops. An act of 3 March 1815 reducing the size of the army led to the regiment being consolidated with the Corps of Artillery on 17 May 1815. Officers whose services were no longer required were discharged on 15 June 1815.[2]


Neither the 1st Regiment nor the 2nd Regiment were used as consolidated units during the War of 1812. Generals frequently used their assigned dragoons as escorts, couriers and scouts rather than fighting men.[3]

At the Second Battle of Sacket's Harbor 29 May 1813, Lieutenant Colonel Electus Backus rallied troops of the regiment and of other Regular Army units to counterattack a British breakthrough. The British force was defeated, but Backus was mortally wounded.[4] Backus died of his wounds on 7 June.[5]

At the Battle of Bladensburg on 24 August 1814, Lieutenant Colonel Jacint Laval led 140 men of the regiment. Laval's troops were placed in support of infantrymen who later broke and ran. Many of the dragoons joined the disorderly retreat. Laval led his remaining troops in an orderly retreat toward Georgetown.[6]


  1. Fredriksen p. 12
  2. 2.0 2.1 Heitman pp. 78—79
  3. Unwin p. 49
  4. Ganoe p. 131
  5. Heitman pp. 179
  6. Neimeyer pp. 33-36


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